Kanaan: “I don’t think you can pick a favorite yet”

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Despite Andretti Autosport’s sweep of the front row for tomorrow’s Pocono IndyCar 400, KV Racing Technology’s Tony Kanaan isn’t ready to concede anything.

“It’s a 400-mile race,” said Kanaan, who will start fifth in the middle of Row 2. “The Andretti guys were strong for the entire season. If you look at their Indy 500 effort, I don’t expect anything less. I don’t think I had anything for [Marco Andretti] today for pole.

“I don’t think you can pick a favorite yet. They did a great job putting three cars in the top three. But it’s a 400-mile race.”

Kanaan is looking to continue his bid for the Triple Crown with a victory tomorrow after winning the Indianapolis 500 this past May. An interesting wrinkle was added earlier this week for the remaining Triple Crown events at Pocono and Fontana in October, which will see three-wide starts.

The Brazilian believes that Pocono’s large frontstretch will be more than adequate in accommodating the start, but nonetheless maintains that everyone will need to take care of each other at the drop of the green flag.

“We only do it once per year,” said Kanaan, alluding to the three-abreast starts at Indy. “Being in a 400-mile race, I hope we respect each other. This straightaway, it’s longer than Indy. It’s wide. I don’t see a problem doing it. But it’s definitely going to be different. We can’t get greedy. We have to respect each other. It’s going to be difficult.

“My boss tells me all the time – that’s why I get paid the big bucks.”

Dodge to celebrate 50th anniversary of Hemi motor at NHRA U.S. Nationals

Photo courtesy Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
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When this year’s NHRA U.S. Nationals plays out from August 29 through September 3 at Indianapolis Raceway Park, a lot of folks are going to be channeling one of the most famous lines in motorsports:

“Hey, that thing got a Hemi?”

Dodge and parent company Fiat Chrysler Automobiles on Thursday – on National Hemi Day, no less – announced that it will celebrate the Hemi’s 50th anniversary of Super Stock cars with the 18th annual Dodge Hemi Challenge during the U.S. Nationals.

Cars that will take part in the Challenge will be 1968 Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda cars – “The most iconic of the Mopar package cars,” touted a Dodge press release – in a head-to-head battle.

The Dart and Barracuda were purpose built for use solely on a drag strip. The 23 entrants in the Challenge will drive their personally owned versions of the ’68 ‘Cuda and Dart.

The winner of the Challenge – which will be held August 30-31 – will take home a $15,000 purse, while cash rewards will be available for all 16 drivers that qualify for final eliminations.

“The Dodge brand is proud to serve as title sponsor of the NHRA Dodge HEMI Challenge, an event that spotlights the legacy and power of the 426 HEMI engine,” said Steve Beahm, Head of Passenger Cars, Dodge//SRT, Chrysler and FIAT, FCA North America.

Beahm added, “This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Dodge Dart and Plymouth Barracuda Super Stock cars that debuted back in 1968 and are still competing today, which makes our support of this edition of the HEMI Challenge extra special.”

One special incentive for contestants is the 42.6-pound NHRA Dodge HEMI Challenge trophy, created in the spirit of the 426 (cubic inch) HEMI engine.

Jimmy Daniels has won the Challenge the last two years and goes for a three-peat in this year’s race within a race. His father, Jim Daniels, won the race in 2010.

The Challenge’s all-time winningest driver is Charlie Westcott Jr. of Parma, Michigan, who captured the Challenge in six different years: 2005, 2006, 2008, 2011, 2012 and 2014.

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